Sunday, 4 October 2015

How to (over) whisk egg white

Don't over whisk warns the recipe. As if that's helpful. How will you know until it's too late? Much like simmer but don't boil, or don't overwork the pastry. Instructions for people who don't understand that aren't needed by those who do. What is a dry egg white anyway?

So here's my handy egg white guide for reference with my blog. These will be my terms on my conditions; others' stiff may be my firm. Don't shout at me if your pavlova flops.

I won't give timings. They will vary with machine and arms. For those of you rheologically inclined, here's a brief intro to the physics of egg white foam.


This is what I call wet. This is barely whisked. There are no peaks. Very FOAMY. I use this in friands and financiers.






Next up is SOFT PEAKS. Do those peaks look soft? In the bowl things are looking full and soft but without any very defined structure. There are still visible bubbles.






FIRM PEAKS. The mass now clumps within the whisk and has a definite thick volume but still looks soft, mobile. There are light whisk marks in the bowl that stay visible. I use this to fold into souffl├ęs.





STIFF PEAKS. The mass now clumps within the whisk and has a definite thick volume but still looks soft, mobile. The whisk marks are now deep with well defined ridges. This is what I use to make meringue. Traditionally you can hold it upside down. But that seems... daft. The mix is smooth, silky and brilliant white in colour. Stop whisking now.






If you don't stop whisking your egg white will be OVER WORKED. They will be DRY. They are beginning to break down. See how granular the mix is now? It no longer looks smooth and silky.








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